USA Track and Field (USATF) announced Sha'Carri Richardson, the country’s top woman sprinter and best hope in decades for gold in the signature women’s 100-meter event, will not compete in the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics this year.
Richardson, 21, tested positive for THC while competing at the track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, last month. She won the 100-meter event and was expected to compete for the gold in both the women’s 100-meter and women’s 4x100-meter relay as well. Because she failed the drug test, USATF rules state the results from the trials should not count and, therefore, she did not qualify for the team.
“First and foremost, we are incredibly sympathetic toward Sha’Carri Richardson's extenuating circumstances and strongly applaud her accountability — and will offer her our continued support both on and off the track,” USATF said in a statement, before stating that all USATF athletes must abide by the same rules. Allowing Richardson to compete “would be detrimental to the integrity of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Track & Field if USATF amended its policies following competition, only weeks before the Olympic Games.”
The statement concluded by expressing empathy with Richardson, but also recognizing the other athletes who will still compete for Team USA.
“So while our heartfelt understanding lies with Sha’Carri, we must also maintain fairness for all of the athletes who attempted to realize their dreams by securing a place on the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team,” the statement read.
Richardson had earlier apologized and took full responsibility for the failed test, saying she was only human and made a mistake while coping with the loss of her biological mother.
“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” she said after news broke of the failed test. “I know what I did. I know what I'm supposed to do, [what] I'm allowed not to do and I still made that decision, but not making an excuse or looking for any empathy in my case.”
There had been hope that Richardson’s suspension would end soon enough that while she would miss the women’s 100-meter event, she could still compete in the women’s 4x100-meter relay. USATF ended that hope with their announcement.
While the news was distressing for Richardson, she had earlier made clear she remains focused on the future.
USATF noted that since Richardson completed a drug counseling program and fully cooperated in the investigation, her suspension was reduced to one month. The one-month suspension began June 28.